Ancient indian literature


  • General Studies-I
  • Indian literature
  • History of ancient india
  • culture

Vedang, Sutras and Smriti Literature

  • Vedangas were composed to understand the Vedas correctly. The total number of them is six – education, kalpa, grammar, nirukta, verses and astrology. These are all written in prose.
  • Kalpa means ritual, meaning law, rule. It has three parts:

(i) Shrouta Sutra (600 BCE to 300 BCE)

(ii) Griha Sutras (600 BCE to 300 BCE)

(iii) Dharma Sutra (500 BCE to 200 BCE)

  • Dharmasutra provides information about social system, such as varnashram, purushartha etc. The source of the Dharmasutra is considered to be Aastastamb. The leading formulators are Gautama, Aapastamb, Boudhayana, Vasistha, Sankhyana, Aashvalayan, etc., in which Gautama has special significance.
Area Author / Development
education Panini, Katyayan
Grammer Ashtadhyayi (Panini)
Free (Nighantu) Yask
Astrology Lagadh, Aryabhata, Varahamihira
Verse Pingle
Aeon Gautam, Baudhayan, Apastamba


  • Memoirs are the legal texts of Hinduism. These are mostly written in verse –
  • Sutras and Smriti literature present the picture of a society where the basis of division was born and complexity came in the society. This situation was in the sixth century BC. Appeared after
Major memories Creation time
Manusmriti 200 BC From 200 AD
Yajnavalkya Smriti 100 BC From 300 AD
Narada Smriti 300 BC From 400 AD
Parashar memory 300 BC From 500 AD
Jupiter Smriti 300 BC From 500 AD
Katyayan Memory 400 BC From 600 AD
Mortal memory Pre medieval


Epic Puranas and Classical Sanskrit Literature

  • Ramayana composed by Valmiki and Mahabharata composed by Ved Vyas as the epic literature is most prominent.
  • The Mahabharata is a free work containing one lakh verses of four lines each. The size of the Ramayana is only about one-fourth of this.
  • The Bhagavad Gita is a philosophical extension of the Mahabharata, in which special lectures are given on the primacy of karma and the immortality of the soul.
  • Purana literally means ancient legend, its composer Maharishi Lomharsha or his son Ugrashrawa.
  • The number of Puranas is believed to be 18. Among them, Vayu Purana, Matsya Purana, Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Markandeya Purana etc. are prominent. Among them, the Matsya Purana (or Vayu Purana) is the oldest.
  • The Puranas in their present form were probably written in the third and fourth centuries CE.
  • The greatest Vibhuti in the region of the epic was Kalidasa (from 380 AD to 145 AD). He took the original content from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana for his work.
  • Kalidasa has composed many plays in which Kumarasambhavaam, Raghuvansham, Abhigyanashakuntalam etc. are prominent.
  • Other distinguished poets like Bharavi (550 AD) composed ‘Kiratarjuniyam’. There are many poets like Shri Harsha and Bhatti who made excellent compositions.
  • The main purpose of poetry and drama is to motivate the reader or the spectator in the excitement or amusement (Lokaranjan) as well as his feelings and finally to make him clear his philosophy of life.
  • Even before Kalidas, a Buddhist scholar like Ashwaghosh composed poems like ‘Buddha Charit’ and ‘Saundaranand’.
  • Poets like Bharavi and Magha also took the main theme of poetry from the Mahabharata, but the difference between the two was that while Bharavi made Shiva adorable in his poetry, Magha made Vishnu.
  • Bharavi composed ‘Kiratarjuniyam’ and Magha composed an epic called Shishupala Slaughter.
  • Further compositions are particularly notable in the commentary by Bhatenarayana and the ‘Rajatarangini’ of the later Kashmiri writer Kalhan.
  • ‘Rajatarangini’, written in the 12th century, is a historical text, in which reliable information about the history of Kashmir from the Mauryan period to 1148 AD is available.
  • The geometrical, didactic, philosophical content of Bhartrihari is divided into Shringarashakta, Nitishakta and Vairagyashakta.
  • Wilhan has used the lyrical style in his famous work ‘Vikramankadevacharit’ and Jaidev in his composition ‘Geet Govind’.
  • The names of Dandi, Subandhu and Banabhatta are prominent in making the prose novel popular in Sanskrit language.
  • The names of Madyavanal, Kamakandala and Tilakamanjari are prominent in the later prose novels, which also include Prakrit and Sanskrit verses in between simple Sanskrit prose.
Veda Brahmin Upanishads Upveda
Rigveda Aitareya, Kaushitki Aitareya, Kaushitki Ayurveda
Yajurved Centipede Kathopanishad, Taittiriyopanishad, Shvetashtaropanishad, Maitrayani Upanishad, Ishavasyopanishad, Brihadaranyakopanishad Archery
Samved Tandya Gemini Pseudo-jaminic Gandharvaveda
Atharvaveda Gopath Mundakopanishad, Question Council, Mandukyopanishad Brahmaveda, Shilpaveda


Theatrical treatise

  • The Natyashastra written by Bharatmuni is believed to date back to the 2nd century BCE, which is the oldest and authentic text of Sanskrit Natyashastra.
  • In it, the acting, theatrical, stage operations, music, verses, ornate and rasa etc. have all been rendered sangopang.
  • The Natyashastra is also known as the Panchamveda.
  • Kalidas, Ashwaghosh, Bhasa, Shudraka, Bhavabhuti, Bhatenarayana, Murari and Rajasekhar are the prominent playwrights.
  • Mruchkatikam (smooth clay cart), composed by Shudraka, is an extraordinary drama in which melancholy truths are seen.
  • Its characters are drawn from all levels of society, including thieves, gamblers, villains and lazy people, prostitutes, police, beggars and politicians.
  • The play has become quite effective due to the variety of events and the dramatic effect.

Major books of ancient India

Work Kritikar
Great lord Patanjali
Mudarakshas Visakhadatta
Malavikagnimitram Kalidas
Economics Kautilya
Ethical Kamandak
Poetry Bhamah
Numeric officer Ishwar Krishna
Material repository Acharya Prastapad
Prakrit Pangalam Acharya Hemachandra
Prithviraj Vijay Jayank
Brahm siddhanta Brahmagupta
Aryabhatiyam, Dasgeetika Sutra and Aryashtashta Aryabhata
Bhuvanakosh, Karpurmanjari Kavyamimansa, Vidvashal-Bhanjika, Valmiki Ramayana Rajasekhar
Hometown Narayan Pandit
Kamasutra Vatsyayan
Shishupala Slaughter January
स्वप्नवासवदत्तम् Bhasa
Keerthi Kaumudi Someshwar
Uttaramcharit Bhavabhuti
Panchatantra Vishnu Sharma
Saraswati Embellishment Raja Bhoj
Dramaturgy Bharata Muni


Instructive sanskrit texts

  • Some educative Sanskrit literature was composed in ancient India, such as Panchatantra, Hitopadesh etc.
  • Its purpose was to provide useful education in political and practical matters to the child princes so that they could become aware of the stories filled in the stories and Hindu moral education.
  • In ancient times, ‘Charak Samhita’, ‘Sushruta Samhita’ are prominent among the early texts written on medicine or surgery. The first of these is a treatise based on medicine and the second surgery. Both these texts were written in the second century BCE.
  • In 600 AD, Vagbhat composed the ‘Ashtanga Hrudaya’.
  • In the field of mathematical science, writing begins with the Vedic book Shulva Sutra. Further texts of Aryabhata, Varahamihira etc. can be named.
  • Aryabhata, the founder of Indian astrology and astronomy, was the first to say in his treatise Aryabhatiyam that the earth revolves on its axis.
  • Varahamihira, the great astrologer of the sixth century, composed the ‘Pancha Siddhantak’ in the epic style.
  • Further in the seventh century, Brahmagupta composed his ‘Brahmasphutik Siddhanta’ in the epic style.
  • The last link of this astrological tradition is Bhaskaracharya (12th century) who composed a book called ‘Siddhanta Shiromani’.

Literature in Pali and Prakrit

  • Pali and Prakrit were the languages ​​spoken by Indians after the Vedic era. On a wider view Prakrit used to indicate any language that originated in some form from the standard language Sanskrit, Pali is an obsolete Prakrit.
  • The legal literature of Buddhism is in Pali which is called Tripitaka. Among the three Pitakas are Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka.
  • If the rules of discipline of Buddhists are stored in Vinaya Pitaka, then the Sitta Pitaka contains ecclesiastical narratives, while the Abhidhamma Pitaka makes philosophical interpretations of Buddhism.
  • Jatak Katha is also a part of these Pitaka literature.
  • These stories propagate the principles of Buddhism and are available in both Sanskrit and Pali.
  • In fact, the native is based on the common heritage of the Indian people.
  • The famous Buddhist name ‘Dhammapada’ is also related to another Buddhist epic called Sutta Pitaka.
  • Buddhist literature is also abundantly available in Sanskrit which includes the great epic ‘Buddhacharitam’ composed by Ashwaghosh (78 AD).
  • Based on the theme of the philosophical faculty by Acharya Nagasen, Milindpanho is the best in Pitcair literature.
  • There was a lot of literature writing of Jains in Prakrit language which is called Jain Agam. In the proceeds of the Jains, 12 limbs, 12 appendages, 10 imprinted, 6 chandasutras, 4 moolasutras, anuayog sutras and nandisutras are counted.
  • Agam literature is accepted by Shvetambara Jain followers, while Digambars believe that the ancient texts of the Jains are inaccessible.
  • Prakrit is well known for the Gathasaptashati (700 verses) composed by ‘Hall’ (300 AD).
  • Some poets like Pahai, Mahavi, Rewa, Roha and Shashipalha have been included in the poetry collection of Gathasaptashati.
  • Jain Acharya Hemachandra (11th century) has given a large number of works in Prakrit about lexicography and grammar. His famous composition is Prakrit Pangalam.
  • Karpoormanjari etc. of Rajasekhar are also important Prakrit texts.
Devout poet Creation time Area
Andal 6th century AD Tamil region
Lalday 1320-1384 AD Kashmir region
Habba Khatoon 1554-1609 AD Jammu and Kashmir
Meera Bai 1498-1557 A.D. Rajasthan, Gujarat
Invalid 1st-2nd century AD Sun. Tamilham
Akkamahadevi 1130-1160 AD Kannada (Karnataka)
Savitribai Pulay 1831-1897 AD Maharashtra region

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